244th ACS National Meeting, Philadelphia, PA - Symposia Reports

Advances in Teaching Inorganic Chemistry in Laboratories

Organizer: Richard H Langley, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Stephen F. Austin State University, Box 13006, Nacogdoches, TX 75962, tel: (936) 468-3606 Emain: rlangley@sfasu.edu

The Symposium began with a presentation by D. Paul Rillema, Wichita State University entitled physical and photophysical properties of [Ru(bpy)3](PF6)2: An advanced inorganic chemistry experiment.  This presentation focused on the synthesis of the title compound.  Then there was a discussion of how its electronic properties, examined by visible/UV spectroscopy, emission spectroscopy and electrochemistry, are applicable to an upper level inorganic chemistry laboratory.

The second paper as co-presented by Mark A. Benvenuto, and Matthew J. Mio, University of Detroit Mercy.  The title of their presentation was coordination chemistry experiments with numerous possibilities, for the undergraduate, inorganic lab course: Including links to the organic lab.  Their paper examined the combination of numerous multi-dentate ligands, which include at least two primary amines, with multi-functional aldehydes allows the creation of highly multi-dentate ligands for use as starting points for coordination chemistry experiments.  The ease of synthesis and rapid visual color changes make these materials ideal for qualitative or quantitative inorganic chemistry laboratory courses.  In addition, the organic synthetic step prior to the production of metal-organic complexes makes them very suitable as experiments that can bridge the inorganic and organic chemistry laboratory courses.

Richard Langley, Stephen F. Austin State University, then presented solid-state experiments for advanced chemistry students, which focused on a solid-state inorganic experiment designed for fourth-year chemistry majors. In this experiment, students synthesize a compound and determine its density, measure its magnetic susceptibility, and analyze its powder x-ray diffraction pattern. This experiment differs from other similar experiments in that each student synthesizes a different compound. There are three sets of compounds to choose between. One set is primitive cubic (perovskite), one is body-centered cubic (garnet), and the final set is face-centered cubic (spinel).

After the intermission Richard Langley, Stephen F Austin State University, presented teaching inorganic concepts through descriptive inorganic chemistry experiments.  The talk focused on the development of experiments for a descriptive inorganic laboratory course.  This course consists of a number of experiments that examine the chemistry of various columns across the periodic table.  The experiments emphasize student observations and independent work.

In another presentation, Richard Langley, Stephen F Austin State University, discussed a comparison of the transition metals through descriptive inorganic chemistry experiments.  These are a series of descriptive inorganic experiments, which examine the periodic properties of transition metals.  The metal ions surveyed are those of Y, La, Ce, Ti, V, Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, and Zn and there are eighteen tests run on each metal ion.  The talked finished with a discussion of common student misconceptions.

The final talk in the Symposium was by Michael J. Karney, CEM Corporation, who discussed general (microwave) chemistry for first-year undergraduates.  The presentation included several basic chemical experiments applicable to a general chemistry laboratory.  There were both inorganic and organic experiments.  All experiments utilized microwave chemistry.  Some safety issues were addressed as was reasons why a normal microwave oven would not work.

Chemistry and the Premedical Curriculum

Organizer:  Joel I. Shulman, Department of Chemistry, University of Cincinnati, PO Box 210172, Cincinnati, OH  45221, tel:  (513) 556-9212, Email:  joel.shulman@uc.edu

The purpose of this symposium was to discuss the ramifications of the 2009 Association of American Medical Colleges-Howard Hughes Medical Institute report Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians (SFFP).  This report emphasizes the competencies that future physicians should demonstrate and will inform the structure of the new MCAT exam to be initiated in 2015.  SFFP presents both opportunities and challenges for the chemistry community.  Discussed in this symposium were some of the innovative approaches being introduced by chemistry programs to better meet the needs of premed and similar pre-professional students.

The first speaker in the morning session was Karen Mitchell of the Association of American Medical Colleges, who discussed the Effect of the SFFP report on the MCAT exam and medical school admissions.  There are eight competencies for entering medical students delineated in the SFFP report.   Among the most pertinent of these for chemistry are “Demonstrate understanding of the process of scientific inquiry, and explain how scientific knowledge is discovered and validated;” “Demonstrate knowledge of basic principles of chemistry and some of their applications to the understanding of living systems;” and “Demonstrate knowledge of how biomolecules contribute to the structure and function of cells.”  These will be addressed in two of the four sections of the new MCAT exam:  Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, and Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems.  It is expected that by the 2016 application cycle, more medical schools will rely less on exact courses taken by students than on core academic competencies as well as interpersonal and intrapersonal competencies.

Cynthia Bauerle of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute then discussed NEXUS:  Developing competency-based undergraduate science curricula.  The definition of scientific competency in this context is the “knowledge, skills and habits of mind needed to understand scientific concepts and discoveries, to integrate them into medical practice, and to communicate them effectively to patients.”  The following NEXUS (National Experiment in Undergraduate Science Education) grants from HHMI have been made to support SFFP competency-based modules/curricula:  Purdue University (increased emphasis on biological chemistry in foundational chemistry courses); University of Maryland, College Park (learning physics in a biological context); University of Maryland, Baltimore County (quantitative reasoning in biology); and University of Miami (integration of disciplinary knowledge in case-study contexts).

Bradford Pendley, University of Memphis, a professor of chemistry who returned to school to obtain his M.D. degree, presented a New model for physician education:  Opportunities for curricular change in premedical education.  The presentation used a case study to illustrate the value of integrating science into clinical problem solving and emphasized the value of applying Bayes’ Theorem:  Rational medical decisions are based on probabilities, which need to be updated when new information becomes available.  Also emphasized was the need during premedical and medical education to assess the application of knowledge (competency) rather than just acquisition of knowledge (content).

General Papers in Chemical Education

Organizer: Steven A. Fleming, Department of Chemistry, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19122, Email: sfleming@temple.edu

There were three General Paper sessions. In one session, the papers dealt with teaching tools. Amy Heston, Walsh University, presented Creating the first forensic science course and the first forensic chemistry course for Walsh University. This presentation described the approach to teaching an investigative forensics course with minimal use of advanced instrumentation. Sally Hunnicutt, Virginia Commonwealth University, presented Energy! A general education science course. The course on Energy at VCU is taught to approximately 900 students each semester. Clickers are used to help keep the students involved, but attendance for this course is optional. GPA is a better indicator of student success than class attendance or year in school. The class includes freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Steven A. Fleming, Temple University, presented Getting more biochemistry into organic chemistry. He described the software Bio-organic Reaction Animations (BioORA) that his team of biochemists and organic chemists have developed. The software is available at www.ctlbyu.org/bioora.  Deanna Warner, Salem State University, presented Teaching an organic/biochemistry semester course to non-majors in the health-science fields: Putting the biochemistry first! This course is a nursing student course that follows the standard one-semester general chemistry class. The typical GOB material for the OB portion is modified to allow for more time on the biochemistry. A trimmed down version of organic chemistry is presented prior to the biochemistry, which is the focus of the course. Steven M. Graham, St. Johns University, presented Organic chemistry and the “structure-mechanism-reaction” paradigm: Structure knowledge is a powerful predictor of student performance. He demonstrated a number of teaching tools including clickers, writing tablets, and document projectors. He presented a numeric approach to electron pushing. Mohamed Ayoub, University of Wisconsin-Washington County, presented Natural bond orbital model for teaching chemical bonding: Bonding teaching with research. This presentation dealt with the use of accurate molecular orbitals as a teaching tool. The use of this teaching tool was demonstrated for teaching in first-year courses as well as advanced courses. Peter Wepplo, presented Electronegativity and the chemical bond. Peter offered an alternative explanation for bond strengths of metal halides.

Introduction of Macromolecular Science/Polymeric Materials into the Foundational Course in Organic Chemistry

Organizer: Bob A. Howell, Department of Chemistry, Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, MI 48859-0001, tel: (989) 774-3582, Email: bob.a.howell@cmich.edu

The purpose of the symposium was to explore methods by which the current ACS Committee on Professional Training guideline provision that “students should be exposed to the principles of macromolecules across foundational areas” is being implemented for the beginning organic chemistry course.  Speakers from widely different types of institutions – from community colleges to four-year colleges to major universities – provided many innovative and successful ways that polymers can be incorporated into the foundational organic course.  Incorporation of polymeric materials emphasizes the importance of organic chemistry in the daily lives of students, enhances interest in the course, generates enthusiasm, and improves student performance. 

The first speaker in the morning session was Charles Carraher of Florida Atlantic University who presented Macromolecule/Polymer Foundational Content in Organic Chemistry.  He discussed the various initiatives of the Polymer Education Committee (PolyEd) to facilitate the inclusion of polymers across the curriculum.  The beginning organic course is a natural fit for polymeric materials.

Bob Howell, Central Michigan University, presented Incorporation of Polymeric Materials to Enhance Interest and Learning in the Foundational Organic Chemistry Course.  A discussion of alkenes usually occurs early in the first organic course and offers a wonderful opportunity to engage the student.  The most important societal/commercial reaction of alkenes is vinyl polymerization.  Discussion of vinyl polymerization permits the introduction of radical chemistry in a relevant, easily appreciated manner.  More importantly, it can be used to illustrate the importance of polymeric materials in the daily lives of student.  Common examples include: poly(acrylonitrile) [Orlon] for clothing [almost always one or more students will be wearing a sweater made from Orlon (“synthetic wool”)] or carpeting and as a precursor to carbon fiber for composite fabrication for aerospace; poly (vinyl chloride) [PVC] for siding for home construction, floor tile, plumbing pipe, and many other uses; poly(acrylates) as coatings; poly(styrene) for inexpensive wine tumblers, culterary, light cours, etc.  A bit of history can be included here as well: low-density poly (ethylene) for radar insulation during WW II; poly(methyl methaerylate) [PMMA, Plexiglass] for the fabrication of canopies for fighter aircraft during WWII [this also offers an opportunity for a brief description of the origins of the Rohn and Haas Company].  Examples of this kind tend to strongly engage the interest of students [generates an appreciation of how organic chemistry impacts their well-being and “hooks” them on the course]. 

Eric Bosch of Missouri State University presented Extrapolation from Small Molecules to Polymers: A Simple and Effective Way to Promote Interest in Both Organic Chemistry and Polymer Chemistry.  The incorporation of several examples of small molecule reactions that could lead to polymer formation by a simple change of conditions was illustrated.  For example, esterification can first be demonstrated for a monofunctional alcohol plus a monofunctional acid, then for a difunctional alcohol and a monofunctional acid, and finally for a difunctional alcohol and a difunctional acid.  Through this progression, the student can readily appreciate how the polymer repeat unit is formed.  It is also clear that the reaction for small molecule esterification and polymerization is the same.  Similarly, an example from early in the course comes from the study of alkenes.  Treatment of isobutylene with water and acid generates isobutyl alcohol via a carbocation intermediate.  The question, “What happens if no water is present?,” can then be raised.  The same carbocation is generated by protonation of the alkene but this time isobutylene rather than water acts as the nucleophile to add to the carbocation.  This, in turn, generates another cation which adds isobutylene, etc., such that poly(isobutylene) is formed.

David Bergbreiter of Texas A&M University presented Using Polymer Synthesis, Reactions and Properties as Examples of Concepts in Beginning Organic Chemistry.  Several examples of simple organic reactions that lead to polymer formation were utilized to illustrate concepts basic to the beginning organic chemistry course.  Of particular note was the change in properties as a function of molecular weight.  A good illustration of the impact structure on properties was provided using three balls made of poly(isoprene).  The first was from the all cis isomer, the second from the trans isomer, and the third from the polymer resulting from predominately 1,2- addition.  When thrown against the wall, the ball from the all cis isomer bounded back in much the same way as a tennis ball would, the ball from the trans isomer dropped directly to the floor with a thud, the ball from the polymer resulting from 1,2- addition to the diene monomer came away from the wall in erratic fashion (“dying rabbit”).

Mark Green from the Polytechnic Institute of New York University presented Industrially Important Polymers Offer an Excellent Didactic Tool for Learning Many of the Fundamental Principles of Organic Chemical Structure and Reactivity.  In an “upside down” approach Professor Green’s course starts with cellulose, considers the structural features of cellulose and starch as isomeric glucose polymers, and works down to the monomeric unit which then permits a discussion alcohols, acetals, and the thermodynamics of ring formation.  Subsequent discussions begin with another polymer with an analogous treatment.  In this way, all the fundamental principles of organic chemistry are covered but with the students having a “front-end” appreciation for why they are important.

Sarah Goh of Williams College discussed Polymer Chemistry in an Undergraduate Curriculum in which she illustrated how polymer chemistry, both lecture and laboratory, can readily be included in the undergraduate curriculum.

John Droske of the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point presented Integrating Macromolecules into Undergraduate Organic Chemistry Courses – it’s Important and There is Room.  Polymers fit naturally into functional group discussions and permit an illustration of the change in physical properties which accompany a change in molecular weight.  The beginning organic course can be enhanced in many ways by inclusion of polymeric materials.

David Baker of Delta College presented Polymers in Organic Chemistry – a Fine Balance.  Most community colleges can only teach a single organic course which must contain some polymer chemistry (for students who may work in industry with an associates degree), some biology (for preprofessional students) and cover all the fundamentals of organic chemistry such that credit for the course will transfer to a four-year college.  Several creative ways to incorporate polymeric materials into the community college organic chemistry course were illustrated. 

Abby Parrill of the University of Memphis presented Polymer Concepts Illustrated in the Context of Biopolymers and described an interesting change in the undergraduate chemistry curriculum at the University of Memphis.  The beginning organic course has been restructured to permit an increased emphasis on polymeric materials, particularly biopolymers.  This coincides nicely with the proposed changes for premedical education.

Bob Howell of Central Michigan University presented Use of Historical Events and Personalities to Facilitate the Incorporation of Polymeric Materials into the Beginning Organic Chemistry Course.  Numerous opportunities exhist to enhance interest in the foundational organic chemistry course by providing an historical context (the impact of the development of poly(ethylene), nylon, poly(methyl methaerylate) and poly(dimethysiloxane) on the outcome of WW II, for example) or some background on prominent individuals responsible for major discoveries (Staudinger, Carothers, Mark, Flory, Semon, Plunkett, Kwolek, etc.).  Students identify with these evetns/personalities and can relate them to the principles being discussed.  Course performance can be significantly improved by some incorporation of history/background.

Warren Ford of Portland State University presented Radical Chain Reactions in Foundational Organic Chemistry.  Instead of basing a discussion of radical chain processes on the chlorination of alkanes (which students tend to find not very exciting) the polymerization of styrene is used.  All the principles of radical processes can be illustrated for the formation of a material that students are familiar with and encounter regularly in their daily lives (inexpensive cutlery, wine tumblers, light covers, etc. – and as a formed product, coffee cups and home insulation).

Laura Kosbar of IBM presented The Importance of Macromolecules in Instursy – the Case for Inclusion in the Undergraduate Curriculum.  Most students who major in chemistry will ultimately work in industry (whether at the B.S., M.S. or Ph.D. level) and most of those will work in a polymer or polymer-related area.  Students who enter industry with some polymer background compete at an advantage with respect to those who do not.  It is vital that the undergraduate chemistry curriculum include polymeric materials.  The foundational organic is ideally suited for and is enhanced by the inclusion of polymers. 

Steven Fleming of Temple University presented Including Polymers in Organic Chemistry.  Opportunities for including polymers in the foundational organic course abound.  Professor Fleming, a textbook author, has developed several aides to facilitate the inclusion of polymeric materials and to promote an understanding of the fundamentals of organic chemistry.

Leslie Sperling of Lehigh University presented Inclusion of Polymer Concepts in Organic and Other Undergraduate Chemistry Books.  The principles of polymer chemistry can be used to enhance virtually any course in the undergraduate curriculum.  This is particularly the case for the foundational course in organic chemistry.  Polymers should be appropriately incorporated into all undergraduate chemistry textbooks. 

Bob Howell of Central Michigan University presented Enhancement of the Laboratory Component of the First Course in Organic Chemistry through the Incorporation of Polymeric Materials.  There are many good polymer experiments that may be utilized to illustrate the principles of organic synthesis, structure and spectroscopy.  A popular experiment that serves to generate student interest, illustrate interfacial synthesis, and provides an opportunity to discuss the development of “synthetic silk” is the synthesis of nylon 6,10.  In this case the product is removed from the interface between an aqueous basic solution of hexamethylenediamine and a methylene chloride solution of sebacoyl chloride as it is formed.  It may be conveniently rolled onto an empty paper towel roller.  This is the most remembered experiment when students are surveyed years after the course has been completed.  The polymerization of lactide using tin octanoate as initiator and benzyl alcohol as initiator, provides a great opportunity to introduce the generation of materials from a renewable biosource, to discuss acid catalysis, and illustrate nucleophilic addition-elimination at acyl carbon.  However, the strongest feature of this experiment is determination of structure using spectroscopy.  Proton NMR spectroscopy can be used to determine the number average molecular weight by end-group analysis.  Comparison of the peak area for the phenyl protons of the initiator fragment with that of the methylene protons of the polymer mainchain readily provides the number of mer units in the chain.  The preparation of poly(aspartic acid) provides an example of a truly green experiment.  No organic solvents are used, the monomer, an edible amino acid, is simply heated in a beaker.  After hydrolysis (by warming in aqueous base) of the poly(succinimide) initially formed, polymer molecular weight may be determined by titration with standard aqueous hydrochloric acid solution.  Poly(aspartic) acid is used commercially as a biodegradable scale inhibitor in steam lines.  Its synthesis provides a ready bridge to a discussion of naturally-occuring poly(amino acids). 

Mobile Devices, Augmented Reality, and the Mobile Classroom

Organizers:  Harry E. Pence, State University of New York college at Oneonta, Oneonta, NY 13861, pencehe@oneonta.edu and Antony Williams, ChemSpider, Royal Society of Chemistry, U.S. Office: Wake Forest, NC-27587, williamsa@rsc.org

As more and more students are bringing web-enabled mobile devices, like smartphones and tablet computers, into the classroom, it is important to ask how this will change the teaching and learning process. Since most students always carry their smartphones, these devices provide continuous access to web pages, podcasts, videos, and other instructional materials, including during lecture. Mobile devices are also a powerful vehicle for both markered and markerless augmented reality applications. Unfortunately, they also may be a source of distraction. How can teachers maximize the utility of these powerful learning devices, while minimizing the opportunities for students' minds to wander?  This symposium was sponsored by the Committee on Computers in Chemical Education.

One of the symposium organizers, Harry E. Pence, began the symposium by discussing Mobile devices and the future of chemical education.  Pence argued that more than half of the students in many chemistry classrooms now own smartphones and/or tablet computers and that percentage is growing rapidly. Smartphones are now at the place where electronic calculators were a little more than a decade ago; many instructors are focused more of potential abuse of the devices than on the ways they will change the learning process. He listed some of the ways that mobile devices can contribute to chemistry instruction, including online information sources, like ChemSpider, QR codes that make physical objects, even pieces of paper, into smart objects that connect to the Internet, access to podcasts, and videos.  He asked whether chemistry teachers are going to respond to these changes or be dragged into the future by our students.

Cynthia B Powell from Abilene Christian Universitytalked abouta Case study in mobile device usage: Mobile enhanced inquiry-based learning (MEIBL), a collaboration that involved Faculty members at three different institutions. Mobile devices were used to deliver podcasts covering laboratory techniques and conceptual information that provided vital modeling and scaffolding for students working in chemistry and biology laboratories taught with an inquiry-based curriculum. The results indicate that the electronic resources allow students to work more independently and evaluated writing samples indicate an improvement in depth of learning across a semester. Students responded positively to the mobile platform, and ~70% reported that the electronic resources enhanced their academic experience.

Autumn L. Sutherlin, also from Abilene Christian University, discussed her work onBlended biochemistry: Using technology outside of class to better reach students in class.  Sutherlin pointed out that Biochemistry is difficult because it requires not only the memorization, but also the interpretation and evaluation of large amounts of material. She said that technology helped her to introduce constructivist techniques into her Biochemistry I course.   Students did assigned reading followed by Just-in-Time Teaching, including warm-up questions which they responded to online before class. The warm-up questions along with responses to clicker questions followed by Peer Instruction were used to guide class discussion. This helped the instructor identify the areas of content where the students were struggling and to focus in on areas that require higher order thinking skills. In conclusion, she observed that students not only liked peer instruction and just-in-time teaching, but that it also allowed them to perform better on examinations.

Doris I. Lewis, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Suffolk University, discussed The Demise of the Textbook and the Rise of ... Something Else.  Lewis noted that textbook publication and authoring are seeing a rapid transition from a printed format to a variety of electronic platforms. The year 2012 has seen the release of the Apple iPad text platform, a lawsuit against a Boston open-source text company by three major textbook publishers, and the widespread adoption of Blackboard-based online learning systems in colleges and iPad texts in high schools. Science education content creators face an expanding variety of options, with no settled, universal platform yet on the horizon.

The next speaker was Lucille A Benedict fromTheUniversity of Southern Maine, whose presentation was entitled, Integrating student-created videos into research papers. Using multimedia (videos and photos) in education has gained popularity. Students increasingly use this content to supplement study materials; students capture videos and photos, disseminate these on social websites, and generate QR codes embedded with a URL linked to the content. For this project, instrumental analysis students created research papers that included short videos focused on research methods developed during independent research performed in the course. Videos were uploaded to YouTube and accessed from research manuscripts using QR codes. Evaluation of articles and videos was analogous to journal article review; papers that were accepted for publication were incorporated into an online course journal. This project is an extension of published work that had students create videos that were then QR coded and posted to instruments and lab manuals. This project reinforced that having students create a publication increases their engagement and their investment in the finished product.

IM-Chem: The use of instant messaging to improve student performance and personalize large lecture general chemistry courses was the title of a presentation by Derek A Behmke from Bradley UniversityBehmke noted thatprevious research has linked poor student performance with the depersonalized feeling of large lecture courses. At the University of Georgia they have attempted to enhance communication using 26 instant messaging (IM) devices in a large (1500 student) general chemistry course. Teaching assistants monitored the messages from the devices and informed the instructor when there were a lot of questions on a particular topic.  They found that IM-Chem participants had a mean course grade that was 0.14 GPA units higher than non-participants, probably due to the active learning environment created by the IM devices.  Additionally, an overwhelming majority of participants stated that IM-Chem personalized the large lecture setting by providing them with an unintimidating way to ask questions and individualized answers to those questions.

Putting chemistry into the hands of students - chemistry made mobile using resources from the Royal Society of Chemistry, the final paper of the morning session was presented by Antony J Williams of theRoyal Society of Chemistry.The increasing prevalence of mobile devices offers the opportunity to provide chemistry students with easy access to a multitude of resources. As a publisher the RSC provides a myriad of content to chemists including an online database of over 286 million chemical compounds, tools for learning spectroscopy and access to scientific literature and other educational materials. This presentation provided a review of the efforts to make RSC content more mobile and therefore increasingly available to chemists. In particular it discussed their efforts to provide access to chemistry related data of high value to students in the laboratory and included an overview of spectroscopy tools for the review and analysis of various forms of spectroscopy data.

The afternoon session began with a talk entitled, Engaging students in learning through the use of mobile webapps given by Lisa B. Lewis of Albion College.Lewis pointed out that our students are addicted to their mobile devices, and so are we. She suggested that there was a way to take the obsession that students have with mobile devices and harness it for education. Her talk described the efforts to create mobile web applications for the study of chemistry and English using HTML5 and Java. She described some examples of the webapps developed for the study of acids and bases, including the design, format, pedagogy, and coding challenges that were encountered. Students liked these apps because they allowed them to digitally study wherever they were, and felt that the value was equivalent to their online homework program.

Carlo Yuvienco, Polytechnic Institute of New York University gave a presentation entitled, Development of tablet software for learning Lewis dot structures.  Unlike those who argue that electronic devices like cell phones, iPods and touch screen devices are distractions in the classroom, this speaker proposed that students may be better engaged by developing software that effectively uses such devices. He described an iPad-based App that enhances the learning of Lewis dot structures in secondary and post-secondary classrooms. The App prototype he described was developed to overcome the lack of guided structure as well as provide more opportunities for creativity in order to change students from being information consumers to being information producers.

Mobile learning in organic chemistry: Discussion of the student's role in the 21st century classroom was the title of the next paper, given by Mai Yin Tsoi from Georgia Gwinnett College.  Acknowledging that today's students are very different from those of previous generations, she and her colleagues created a student-centered, mobile learning environment in Organic Chemistry with a suite of electronic course materials which include videos, apps, and a social network. This project has been underway for the past three years, and the findings thus far show that students bring a distinct set of needs and skills to the learning environment, which impact their use of the mobile learning materials. Some of these qualities, such as self-efficacy, attitude, and technology expertise, were found to significantly affect whether students use mobile devices for learning Organic Chemistry.

Issam Kobrsi, from The Petroleum Institute in The United Arab Emirates, reported on a program that was designed to train students in organic nomenclature using touch media such as tablets and mobile phones. His presentation was entitled, Learning organic chemistry through gaming, Part I: Nomenclature. The program was designed to train each part of the naming process separately, instead of training all the concepts simultaneously. The first concept was identified as the numbering of the longest chain. The program displays one molecule at a time from a customizable database. Students can then tap the carbon atoms in the proper order using their fingers and receive immediate feedback. Preliminary studies showed that, compared to traditional homework, students can go through many more exercises during the same time than with more traditional methods. In addition, the students were more engaged due to the “video game nature” of the exercise versus the “study nature” of traditional homework.

Alex M Clark,Molecular Materials Informatics of Canada, discussed the current state of the art for mobile apps for chemistry, and their use in an educational context in his paper entitled, Chemical structure diagrams, reactions, and data: Anytime, anywhere.  The creation of chemistry-aware mobile apps presents a significant opportunity to enhance chemical education. Tablets and mobile phones introduce a level of convenience that makes them all but omnipresent. Access to chemistry-oriented learning material is of significant value, and taking it one step further involves providing content-creation capabilities. Being able to create, view, send and receive chemical data, and use it to interact with educational or reference services, makes these devices powerful interactive learning tools.

The final paper, Using HTML5 to build immersive teaching materials, was given by Kevin J Theisen from iChemLabs, LLCTheisen said that mobile devices give students today access to a wealth of technology for interacting with digital information. It can be very enticing to take advantage of these platforms in classrooms. However, the ability to distribute information across the wide range of devices students may possess is a significant problem. This barrier restricts most instructors to distributing text and images, since they simply do not have the time to prepare and format coursework for all the existing devices. HTML5 standards present a simpler approach to distributing dynamic graphics and interactive data across all desktops.

This was an exciting and well-attended symposium, followed by an active discussion of how this group might continue to cooperate on this topic and expand the dialogue beyond the current venue.  The organizers thank all the speakers, as well as the Committee on Computers in Chemical Education for sponsoring the symposium and Cynthia B Powell for moderating one of the sessions. 

NSF Catalyzed Innovations in the Undergraduate Curriculum

Robert K. Boggess and Cindy A. Burkhardt

The 26th National Science Foundation Symposium, “NSF Catalyzed Innovations in the Undergraduate Curriculum”, was held as part of the Division of Chemical Education program at the 244th American Chemical Society National Meeting and Exposition.  The speakers were chosen from recent NSF award winners within the Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) – Phase I, CCLI –Type 1, and Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (TUES)-Type I programs.  Topics discussed in the Symposium covered a large range of curricular innovations, gave the awardees a forum in which to report accomplishments, and provided the opportunity for an exchange of ideas to continue curricular innovations.

Jeanne Pemberton from the University of Arizona described the integration of luminescence spectroscopy across the curriculum, specifically emphasizing its use for analysis of molecular assemblies and energy conversion materials.  Maria Hepel of the State University of New York at Potsdam introduced curricular changes by incorporating Raman spectroscopy in courses offered by chemistry, biology, and anthropology departments.  Another approach at incorporating structure determination into the curriculum was presented by Dean Johnston of Otterbein University as he outlined how experimental structural chemistry was introduced using X-ray diffraction to provide a structural data continuum.  Michelle Bushey from Trinity University described the use of a hand-held X-ray fluorescence spectrometer and inductively coupled plasma–optical emission spectrometer in both chemistry and geoscience courses.  Both techniques allowed enhanced student engagement and a better understanding of elemental analysis and spectroscopy.

David Rusterholz described a newly designed and implemented organic-first curriculum at the University of Wisconsin–River Falls.  Their goals included a higher student retention rate, enhanced learning, and increased interest in chemistry.  Changes to the organic laboratory curriculum were presented by S. Shaun Murphree of Allegheny College as he described new and adapted synthetic methods designed to implement microwave-assisted organic synthesis and the development of new laboratory materials to support the redesigned organic curriculum.

Hands-on experience with modern instrumentation and project-based curricula has been demonstrated to enhance real-world problem solving skills.  Todd Silverstein described an innovative biochemistry laboratory course at Willamette University in which a two-semester sequence is integrated with an upper-level Instrumental Analysis lecture course.  The biochemistry experiments draw on the expertise of all fields of chemistry and begin with skill-based laboratories and progress to problem-based laboratories.  Stephen Cessna of Eastern Mennonite University described their program to integrate research-based problem solving skills across biology and chemistry courses and into faculty and student research efforts.  These were accomplished by developing several multi-week projects focusing on environmental themes and utilizing modern instrumentation.  Daniel Martinez from the University of Southern Maine discussed the development of an applied energy curriculum that includes coursework, laboratory exercises utilizing energy equipment, field study, internships, energy efficiency analysis, and life cycle assessment.

Successful collaborations can greatly impact researchers and students alike and enhance the field of science.  Stephen Cooke of Purchase College described how the implementation of UV-Vis, fluorescence, and HPLC instruments early into their program improved the success of students in the biochemistry curriculum.  Instrumentation was also introduced into the curricula of six community colleges whose students often transfer to Purchase College.  Details of the partnership and required work were outlined.  M. Paul Chiarelli of Loyola University described a collaborative effort between the University and Harold Washington College and Truman College to introduce mass spectrometry to the participating Chicago City Colleges.  The goal was to involve students using the instrumentation to study halomethane water disinfection by-products.  With more hands-on and real-world science, student interest is normally enhanced.  Rui Zhang of Western Kentucky University and Shawn Kellie of Elizabethtown Community and Technical College described the incorporation of two FT-NMR spectrometers into the curricula at both institutions led to a successful collaboration.  They discussed specific courses affected by the instrumentation, training, workshops for high school students and teachers, outreach activities, challenges faced by the collaboration, and the stimulation of a broader partnership.

Teaching science to non-science majors is a major challenge in undergraduate education.  L. Kraig Steffen described an innovative approach developed to teach science through the core curriculum at Fairfield University.  Thematically related science courses or a science and closely related field were combined as a course couple taught back to back in the same room. Two semester couples were also explored.  Students were encouraged to learn material across disciplinary lines and connect the course ideas to societal concerns, thus demonstrating the practice of modern science.  Jane Rice of Michigan State University described a recently developed science course curriculum for pre-service K-8 teachers.  It is based on explicit and repeated practice with three fundamental chemistry concepts, utilizing physical instructional models.  Assessment suggested that the repeated use of physical models did improve educational outcomes.

Transforming undergraduate education for the enhancement of science is a challenging and ongoing process.  Educational tools are of utmost importance.  John Moore of the University of Wisconsin-Madison presented an overview of ChemPRIME, an online wiki text, and ChemPaths, an online instructor resource that utilizes ChemPRIME.  Both were developed in the Chemical Education Digital Library.  Specific examples were presented, demonstrating how these programs were used by four teachers at other institutions and reporting chemical education research studies of that use.  Cary Moskovitz of Duke University described a new approach to improving scientific and technical writing skills of undergraduate STEM students.  University alumni and employees with scientific and technical backgrounds are utilized as readers for student writing assignments.  Their goals include improving student attitudes toward writing and gaining maturity in the scientific writing style.

In addition to the diverse topics discussed in the Symposium, an overview of Chemistry within the NSF’s Division of Undergraduate Education was given by David Brown, one of the current Program Officers at NSF.  David was joined by Pamela Brown and Joseph Grabowski, also Program Officers at NSF, to lead a well-received question-answer period with the audience.

The Symposium provided Principle Investigators of sixteen NSF awards the opportunity to disseminate the results of their projects.  The overview and panel discussion provided a means for audience members to gain information about current NSF programs and also an opportunity to ask specific questions of NSF personnel.  Plans are underway to continue the Symposium at the 246th National Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana (September 2013).  The organizers will solicit abstracts from potential speakers in January.  All recent (last five years) CCLI and TUES awardees should receive an invitation to participate in the Symposium.  If the invitation is not received, please contact either of the organizers at Radford University.

Partnership with Industry

Organizer:  Qun Gu, Department of Chemistry, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, 230 Scotland Rd, Edinboro, PA 16444, tel:  (814) 732 1510, Email:  qgu@edinboro.edu

This symposium featured speakers from both academia and industry who whose presentations focused on industry-academia partnerships and collaborations for chemical education and research programs/projects. The enhanced learning experience of undergraduate and/or graduate students as the outcome were also highlighted. 

The first speaker was Richard E. Partch, Sr, Senior University Professor at Chemistry Department of Clarkson University, NY, whose presentation title was Enhancing Chemical Education: Academic – Industry Collaboration. Dr. Partch talked about his experience of collaborating with 130 plus companies and many government agencies. The outcome of these collaborations led to the completion of over 200 Chemistry and Chemistry Engineering Student Projects/Theses. As Dr. Partch said, “The only pathway for academic chemists to achieve success in their profession is to partner with persons at government or industrial sources of funding”. This presentation also highlighted a few aspects of the presenter's background that led to the collaborations and how the projects enhanced student participant enthusiasm for chemistry as a career.

The second speaker was Annemarie D Ross, from Department of Science and Mathematics of Rochester Institute of Techonology/National Technical Institute for the Deaf. She talked about Benefits of Academic-Industrial Partnership for Chemical Technonogy Programs. Her presentation was co-authored with her colleague, Dr. Todd Pagano. The presenter talked about the successful implementation of the Laboratory Science Technology Program as a result of academia-industry collaboration. “Academia increased cooperative experiences for the students. Industry obtaied better prepared graduates entering the workforce”.

Dr. John S. Manka, the Global Department Manager of the R&D Chemical Synthesis Group at The Lubrizol Corporation, gave a presentation titled Talent and Technology – Academia as a Strategic Partner to Industry. Dr. Manka pointed out that industry and academia have “shared scientific goals, shared economic goals, and shared community goals”. The presenter showcased Lubrizol Corporation’s entire spectrum of collaboration with academia in a broad sense: partnering with elementary schools and high schools via venues such as Science Fairs and Programs and Science Teacher Awards; partnering with university undergraduate programs via Scholarships, Summer Intern Programs, and Co-ops; partnering with graduate schools via Industrial Post Docs and “University Contacts Program” (PhD Project Sponsorship and Students Work on Industry Specific Projects).

Dr. Carl Hultman, from Department of Chemistry at Gannon University discussed From Academia to Industry- Things to know for faculty starting up companies. The presenter talked about the basics of technology transfer and nuts-and bolts about the transition from a member of academia to one of the founders of a startup company in the industry. The speaker also covered topics such as fund raising, consulting resources, business plan, legal documentation, collaborating with colleagues at other departments within the university and with people in the industry and business world, as well as finding partners.

Sree Rayavarapu (doctoral student at Center for Genetic Medicine Research, Washington, DC) and Christine Jelinek (postdoctoral fellow in Robert Cotter’s Middle Atlantic Mass Spectrometry Lab at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD) presented their individual work in collaboration with Shimadzu Corporation. Dr. Faith Hays, Dr. Brian Field, and Ms Heather Juzwa from Shimadzu were involved in the collaboration. The presenters’ showcased the collaboration that “bring together the insight and creativity of academic researchers with the instrument development expertise of Shimadzu to build truly integrated partnerships that translate innovative research into powerful Life Science products and platforms that impact future discovery and increase diagnostic value.

The sixth speaker withdrew his presentation. So the organizer used this time block as a free form discussion session. The audience members had some conversations with the speakers, asking questions about their topics. Then the symposium resumed with the next speaker.

Dr. John C. Gebler, Director of Scientific Marketing of Waters Corporation, gave a talk titled Partners to Products. Dr. Gebler briefly introduced the history of partnership of Waters Corporation with the academia. He reported a comprehensive program that Waters developed for the characterization of biopharmaceuticals, as a result of collaboration with researchers in academia. Other examples were also introduced. As he remarked, Most of these have evolved from constructive collaborations where mutual benefits were identified.

This symposium had a nice pool of chemists representing both the industry and the academia, in which both the audience and the speakers felt that they had learned a lot.

Practical Applications of Using Visualization Techniques in Chemical Education

Organizer: Patricia M. Todebush, Department of Natural Sciences, Clayton State University, 2000 Clayton State Blvd. Morrow, GA 30260, tel. (678) 466-4788, Email: patriciatodebush@lcayton.edu

In this session, Colin Ashe, Carnegie Mellon University, presented A web-based simulation engine for two Dimensional interactive simulations of molecular systems.   This presentation highlighted a two dimensional web based computational engine for simulations of atoms and molecules.  The talk demonstrated some of the available simulations for the general chemistry curriculum and as well future the simulations under development and the need for Beta testers for the mobile simulation app.  Daniel Barr, Utica College, presented Making their own visualizations, introducing students to the techniques and applications of biomolecular simulations.  Three computational  instructional units for a biochemistry lab were developed for an undergraduate biochemistry lab.  The three units include a visualization lab which leads into a bioinformatics lab and then into a Monte Carlo dynamics lab. The work emphasizes student visualization to help student understanding of form follows function.  Bhawani Venkataraman, Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts, presented Visualization and interactivity in the learning of chemistry in which she highlighted a set of eight in class modules she developed for her students. These modules were developed to help students understand what is actually going on at the molecular level. She developed them to help her students visualize the 3D nature of molecular interactions to help students make connections between geometry and function.  Danaè R. Quirk Dorr, Minnesota State University, presented Boosting laboratory preparedness and experimental comprehension: Integration of online pre-laboratory modules in which a set of pre-lab animated videos with questions were developed for the general/organic/biochemistry (allied health) laboratory course.  These pre-labs were used in a condensed summer session and analysis was done to compare the results of students completing the pre-labs to the control group, those not given access to the pre-lab animations.  Improved student preparedness and experimental comprehension was demonstrated by students completing the pre-lab assignments.  Edmund Moses N. Ndip, Hampton University, presented Visualizing concepts in chemistry – a case study in physical chemistry. He highlighted a visualization component to the traditional problem – model- method – implementation solving scheme used in physical chemistry.  He developed a set of lab activities using modeling and simulations so that students can “See the science” examples included particle in a box and the harmonic oscillator among others.    Patricia M. Todebush, Clayton State University, presented Single class period activities for the science majors’ chemistry course covering an introduction to the gas laws.  Here she highlighted some of the currently used yet poor examples that are given to highlight understanding of the individual gas laws. She then highlighted a few other ways to make the gas laws relevant to current chemistry students.

The Power of Chemistry in Public Health: Drug Design from the Lab Bench to the Consumer

Organizers: Emilly Obuya and Robert Congdon, Department of Chemistry, Binghamton University, P.O. Box 6000, Binghamton, NY 13902, Email: gsspc.binghamton@gmail.com

In the morning session, Megan Fegley, GSSPC Vice chair, provided the welcome address.  Throughout the morning and afternoon sessions Robert Congdon, GSSPC program chair, acted at the presider of the symposium.  Magid Abou-Gharbia, School of Pharmacy, Temple University, presented Strategies for the discovery of innovative therapeutics.  This presentation focused on the challenges pharmaceutical companies face such as reduced efficiencies, declining innovation and the industry’s tarnished image. Academic drug discovery centers were discussed as an initiative to address these challenges by facilitating the transition of academic ideas and breakthroughs into drug discovery opportunities, a current innovation gap. Peter Bernstein, PhaRmaB LLC, presented The evolving role of chemistry in small molecule drug discovery.  The role of the medicinal chemist has transformed from a synthetic organic chemist developing small molecule drugs to a conductor/composer who integrates input from synthetic, ana­lytical, computational, structural biological, physical and informatics chemists.  The presentation discussed how the functions that chemists fill in R&D efforts have become more diverse, com­plex and specialized, but at the end of the day an effective and safe small molecule drug is still key.  Patrick Lam, Lam Drug Discovery Consulting, LLC, presented Structure-based discovery of a novel factor Xa inhibitor, Eliquis®/Apixaban, as a new anticoagulant and the discovery of Chan-Lam coupling reaction.  Factor Xa is at the junction of the intrinsic and extrinsic pathways of Thrombosis and preclinical data demonstrated that blocking FXa is an effec­tive approach for anticoagulation. Using structure-based drug design tools, Bristol-Myers Squibb has discovered a novel class of potent, se­lective and orally bioavailable Factor Xa inhibitors culminating in Eliquis®/Apixaban, with Eliquis® in Phase III clinical trials. During the optimization process, the powerful Chan-Lam Coupling reaction was discovered, a copper promoted C-X bond cross-coupling via boronic acids which is a complementary reaction to the Suzuki- Miyaura Coupling.

Steven Tannenbaum, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, presented The chemistry of inflammation and cancer: Lessons from inflammatory bowel disease.  This presentation focused on the discovery and application of serum biomarkers of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to monitor disease severity and activity in IBD patients. Using a mouse model of IBD and colon cancer, it was shown that bacterial infection leads to chronic inflamma­tion, dysplasia and cancer, by a process that is promoted by pro-inflammatory cy­tokines/chemokines, oxidative and nitrosative stress and DNA/protein damage. The invading inflammatory cells produce a mixture of chemicals, including NO, H2O2, HO•, CO3−•, HOCl, and NO2•, which damage and lead to degradation of proteins, lipids and nucleic acids, inducing mutation and/or cell death.  Bonnie Charpentier, Metabolex Inc, presented Chemistry and regulatory in drug development.  Shifting the focus to the regulatory requirements for development and approval, this presentation highlighted the history and changes in regulation and guidelines, often as a result of public safety disasters. Since chemistry is involved in drug design, synthesis, isolation, formulation, manufacturing, quality testing and measurement, training in chemistry can be helpful in guiding drug de­velopment, not only in the laboratory but in such careers as regulatory affairs. Therefore, the current role of chemistry in the development and approval of new drugs was also discussed.

In the afternoon session, Bob Maughon, Dow Wolf Cellulosics, presented Health by design: Dow Wolff Cellulosics excipient innovations for the pharmaceutical industry.  This presentation discussed how Dow Wolff Cellulosics tailors polymer chemistry, mor­phology and blending into solutions that enable customers to provide consum­ers healthier outcomes. In modified release, research enables formulators and manufacturing teams to address regulatory and sustainability initiatives, focusing on modeling the performance design space to better predict structure-property relationships; enabling enhanced quality-by-design; the development of materials that can deliver direct compression; and improved technologies for osmotic delivery systems. In immediate release, developments in low viscosity HPMC polymers and their applications to improve product performance and sus­tainability vs. conventional methods in coatings, capsules and granulation was primarily discussed. Michael Hurrey, Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated, presented Development of blockbuster drugs in the 21st Century: A personal journey.  From the perspective of the speaker, the talk went through the key factors needed to develop a drug through clinical trials and eventually to launch it. Examples of the blood, sweat, tears, and luck it took him to succeed in launching two drug candidates was also discussed.

Nancy Lewen, Bristol-Myers Squibb, presented Forensics in the pharmaceutical industry.  Unfortunately, counterfeit pharmaceuticals are becoming more prevalent in domestic and foreign marketplaces. With patient safety at the forefront, the pharmaceutical indus­try is working to prevent and detect the manufacture and distribution of counterfeit pharmaceuticals. Therefore the talk highlighted work being performed in the pharmaceutical industry to identify counterfeit products as well as their source.  Elizabeth Cormier, FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine, presented Chemists, chemistry, and the FDA: Building quality into drug Manufacturing.  This presentation explored the importance of quality controls and the role FDA plays in drug development.  Throughout the last century, members of the FDA staff, many of them chemists, have been striving to protect and promote public health. A component of any drug application is the Chemistry, Manufacturing, and Controls (CMC) technical section which is designed to ensure that the drugs our children take tomorrow are as safe and ef­fective as the ones we approve today.   At the conclusion of the afternoon session, Paul Tanui, GSSPC logistics chair, provided the concluding remarks.